Why is Kia Not Popular?

Kia’s lack of popularity is due to its poor global marketing strategy from 1970-1990, recent scandals and recalls, along with its poor image of quality, safety, and reliability. It is hard to shape off a bad reputation especially if your company goals are not building innovative cars.

Kia is an automotive manufacturer and car brand with a notoriously unpopular reputation. While some Kia models get great reviews and reliability scores, like the Kia Telluride, many people have an overall negative opinion about the auto brand. 

There are many factors that contribute to this lack of popularity, including the brand’s history, marketing, scandals, and quality. In the case of Kia, it’s possible that the brand’s negative history and bad publicity have contributed to an inaccurate public opinion of the company. 

If you were wondering if all the rumors about Kias were true, stay tuned! In this article, we’ll be going over all the reasons that Kia is not popular and giving you the facts about what the brand is really like!

Kia Brand Overview and History

One important factor to look at when considering Kia’s popularity is the history and overview of the brand. Many of the reasons people have a negative opinion of Kia today has to do with how the brand started out. Kia’s first factory plant was opened in 1973, and instantly they did not have the best reputation.

When Kia started out, they often built cars that were originally made by other manufacturers and discontinued. 

One example of this is the Kia Pride, which was actually just derived from the Ford Festiva with a couple of modifications. Considering many of the discontinued and borrowed models Kia was building was not popular in the first place, it’s no wonder that Kia gained a bad reputation by engaging in this practice to begin with.

Kia did not come to America until 1992 when its first American dealership opened. The automaker only sold very basic budget car models when they were just taking off, and the cheap quality of its early vehicles certainly contributed to the brand’s poor reputation.

Kia Marketing

Another aspect to consider when looking at Kia’s popularity is the brand’s marketing over the years. Often a car’s popularity has little or nothing to do with car quality or reliability.

 If an auto manufacturer has poor marketing and a bad reputation from the outset, it’s very difficult to come back from, which is what we’re dealing with when it comes to Kia.

You may even see a similar trend with other brands like Acura or even Lexus.

There is a public sentiment about Kia, including that their cars are unreliable, slow, unsafe, and lacking innovation. While none of these claims are currently backed by statistics, that doesn’t change that a lot of Americans believe them. 

While some of these things were true of Kia in the 90s, the brand and the way they manufacture cars have changed greatly since then.

Some marketing efforts in recent years by Kia have attempted to turn the tides, and while the brand still has some negative connotations their quality and marketing have greatly improved. 

Kia has refocused much of its marketing to the United States, whereas the beginnings of the brand were centered more around Europe and Asia. 

The brand has also gradually increased performance and quality, with little increase in costs, making Kia a leader in American budget car brands today despite its reputation.

Kia Scandals and Bad Publicity 

Though Kia has made great strides in recent years, they have also had some past missteps and bad publicity that have impacted its reputation on both a national and global scale. 

Perhaps one of the most glaring examples of this was when Kia was fined $100 million in 2014 for misleading consumers about fuel economy. Kia was found to have misled consumers on over a million cars sold in the United States. 

Kia provided inaccurate information about real-world fuel economy performance which is a big no-no in any industry, let alone a cutthroat one like the automobile industry.

There have also been scandals regarding the safety of Kia vehicles as recently as 2019. In 2019 Kia was forced to announce a massive recall after hundreds of cars suddenly burst into flames

This detail is scary in and of itself, but there were also allegations that Kia was not vigilant enough in making sure something like this didn’t happen. 

A whistleblower has come forward since the incident and claimed that he had warned Kia about this issue with the engines over a year before the recall. 

With bad publicity and scandals like this, it’s no wonder the American public has a bad impression of Kia and that the brand is not popular. 

Quality, Safety, and Reliability of Kia Cars

While many people believe Kia has inferior quality, safety, and reliability to other brands, there is actually no evidence to back this up. 

This is part of what makes the issue of Kia’s popularity so interesting: even though they have made improvements to their vehicles and marketing, stereotypes about the Kia brand were already ingrained in the American public’s heads. 

Although the 2019 recall seemed scary to the public, there are many terrifying reasons for car recalls across a range of brands, and the fact of the matter is it’s unlikely that the average car owner would be affected by one of these.

Although Kia has a reputation for poor-quality cars, especially in its early days, you might be surprised to find out that there is not a single Kia model on CarComplaints’ worst vehicles list

Some vehicles with decent reputations that appear multiple times on this list include the Ford Explorer, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Ford Escape.

When looking at the complaint statistics for the Kia brand, the majority of models have very few complaints on file. The cars with significantly more complaints than other models are the 2013 Kia Optima and the 2011-2016 models of the Kia Sorrento. 

Aside from those two cars, there is nothing to confirm the rumors about Kia’s safety and reliability.

Quality matters to customers. This is one reason why so many cars fall into this list of being so cheap—

Wrapping it Up

Overall, the issue of Kia’s popularity is a complicated one. 

Many people have misconceptions about the brand and think it has inferior quality, safety, and reliability to other brands. Although many people believe these things about Kia, there is also no indication in safety and reliability reports that Kia is any different from other major car brands. 

However, it’s understandable that most of the public does not have a good opinion of Kia. They started out by rebranding already discontinued cars and focused their marketing more towards Europe and Asia in their early days. 

When you combine this with bad publicity such as the 2014 EPA fine and the 2019 recall, it’s no wonder people are hesitant to purchase Kias when there are so many other car brands out there for a reasonable price. 

If you’ve been looking to buy a Kia, you should be careful not to let the brand’s lack of popularity deter you. 

As long as you’re not buying a 2013 Kia Optima or a 2011-2016 Kia Sorrento, the stats are on your side! Despite Kia not being popular, they are a steady auto manufacturer if you are looking for a budget vehicle with good safety ratings.

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